Sydney: New South Wales police have confirmed that three people, including gunman Man Haron Monis have died in the Sydney siege. The hostages who lost their lives have been identified as Katrina Dawson, a lawyer by profession and Lindt Café manager, Tori Johnson. It has not been confirmed whether they were killed in the crossfire after the police stormed the building or by their captor.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the hostage-taker (who has been identified as Man Haron Monis), who at one point had unfurled an Islamic flag at the window of the cafe, “had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability”.
The 16 hour long standoff ended when a loud bang was heard from the cafe and five people ran out. Shortly after, police swooped in, amid heavy gunfire, shouts and flashes. A police bomb disposal robot also was sent into the building, but no explosives were found.
Australia’s dramatic siege in which a gunman displayed an Islamic flag follows months of warnings about “lone wolf” attacks, and experts said authorities must think harder about how to tackle the problem.
Soon after the siege was over Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted that Infosys techie Vishwakant Ankit Reddy was safe. Apart from the Infosys techie, there was also another Indian hostage, Pushpendu Ghosh, who was also said to be safe.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the shooting at the Lindt cafe as ugly and appalling and Sydney’s first “brush with terrorism” in 35 years. “This is an incident that has echoed around the world.”
He praised the police response and said that Sydney has shown its good character in the toughest of times.
Lindt Australia thanked the public for its support. “We are deeply concerned over this serious incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the staff and customers involved and all their friends and families,” the company wrote in a Facebook post.